‘When you fail, it means you’re pushing the boundaries of what’s expected,’ says Xbox’s Phil Spencer

First-party exclusives ‘more difficult’

In a frank exchange with GameSpot, Xbox boss Phil Spencer acknowledged that experimentation with new IPs inevitably resulted in a “higher fail-rate.”

“When you’re starting new games, in terms of new ideas and mechanics, your fail-rate is much higher. That’s why the ratio of new IP [versus old] is not going to be much higher,” said Spencer. “But I’m so proud we opened the show with Quantum Break and Scalebound, and I know it’s not a new IP, but I’m so glad we closed the show with Halo Wars 2.”

The thing with new franchises is that they’re difficult. This is going to sound funny, but you want to fail, because when you fail, it means you’re pushing the boundaries of what’s expected. So, you kind of need to know what the boundaries are of what’s possible.

When pushed upon third-party exclusives – particularly those that have gone to rival Sony – Spencer said that Microsoft was making a “conscious decision” to focus on first-party titles. 

“I do think that building up first-party exclusives is creatively more difficult than signing a deal, just by the nature of what it is. But I’ll point out too that Sony has some great first-party franchises. I’m a big fan of Uncharted, I thought that looked great at E3. I really admire the team at Naughty Dog, the team at Polyphony.”

“For us, right now Xbox is in a stretch where all its first-party teams are doing an incredible job. I’m proud of that as the head of Xbox, and as the head of first-party. To be able to open a show with Quantum Break, to be able to close it with Halo Wars, and to have Dave Jones and Hideki Kamiya on stage in between, makes me incredibly proud. Oh, I should mention Forza too…”

What do you think? Is Microsoft delivering on what it says with quality first-party titles, or do you still need more convincing? 

Vikki Blake